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Latrobe man gets jail for 2012 heists in Rostraver

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Latrobe man will serve as much as 21 years in prison for two armed robberies committed two summers ago in Rostraver.

Steven Michael Kozemchak, 24, pleaded no contest on Wednesday to charges of robbery, theft and receiving stolen property in connection with the July 31, 2012, heist at the EFS Food Station grocery store and a similar crime four days later at a CoGos convenience store.

The pleas were finalized just minutes before lawyers were scheduled to make opening statements before a jury in the grocery store robbery case.

Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. sentenced Kozemchak to concurrent nine- to 21-year prison terms.

Under terms of the plea bargain, prosecutors waived seeking a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for each robbery.

“I was satisfied with the outcome. That's a lot of time,” said Assistant District Attorney Wayne Gongaware.

Police said Kozemchak wore a hat, glasses and a hood over his head when he entered the grocery store, held a knife to a clerk's neck and demanded cash from the register.

Witnesses said Kozemchak left the store with $150 and fled into nearby woods.

On Aug. 4, 2012 police said Kozemchak wore a black “Kiss” wig when he brandished a knife and demanded a clerk at the convenience store empty the cash register. Witnesses said Kozemchak took $462.

According to court records, a couple alerted police they suspected Kozemchak, who had briefly stayed at their home, was involved in the robberies.

Joe Lamacchia told police he met “Steve the Dump Truck” Kozemchak at a rehabilitation center and allowed him to stay at his home.

Police found a knife, clothes and a wig that witnesses described in a room that Kozemchak used, according to court records.

Gongaware said police found Kozemchak's DNA on the clothes and the wig.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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